Cholera is an infection of the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
The main symptoms are watery diarrhea and vomiting. This may result in dehydration and in severe cases grayish-blue skin.
Transmission occurs primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person, including one with no apparent symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms Edit
The primary symptoms of cholera are profuse diarrhea and vomiting of clear fluid.
If the severe diarrhea is not treated, it can result in life-threatening dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Cholera has been nicknamed the "blue death" because a person's skin may turn bluish-gray from extreme loss of fluids.
Fever is rare.
Patients can be lethargic, and might have sunken eyes, dry mouth, cold clammy skin, decreased skin turgor, or wrinkled hands and feet.
Kussmaul breathing, a deep and labored breathing pattern can occur.
Blood pressure drops due to dehydration, peripheral pulse is rapid and thready, and urine output decreases with time. Muscle cramping and weakness, altered consciousness, seizures, or even coma due to electrolyte losses and ion shifts are common, especially in children.
About 100 million bacteria must typically be ingested to cause cholera in a normal healthy adult.
This dose, however, is less in those with lowered gastric acidity.
Children are also more susceptible, with two-to-four-year-olds having the highest rates of infection.
Individuals' susceptibility to cholera is also affected by their blood type, with those with type O blood being the most susceptible.
Persons with lowered immunity, such as persons with AIDS or children who are malnourished, are more likely to experience a severe case if they become infected.